Mondino de Luzzi, or de Liuzzi or de Lucci, (ca. 1270 –
1326), also known as Mundinus, was an Italian physician, anatomist and
professor of surgery, who lived and worked in Bologna. He is often
credited as the restorer of anatomy because he made seminal
contributions to the field by reintroducing the practice of public
dissection of human cadavers and writing the first modern anatomical
2 Teaching methods
4 Contributions to anatomy
8 External links
He was born around 1270 into the prominent Florentine de Luzzi family
with loyalties to the Ghibellines and inscribed to the Società dei
Toschi, a medieval institution of
Bologna for people from Tuscany.
His father, Nerino, and grandfather Albizzio were both pharmacists in
Bologna, and his uncle Luzio (also Liuzzo or Lucio) was a
professor of Medicine. Mondino studied at the University of
the College of Medicine and the College of Philosophy, graduated
around 1290, and he was employed as a public lecturer in practical
medicine and surgery at the university from 1306 to 1324. During
his schooling, Mondino was a pupil of Thaddeus of
Alderotti), who made significant contributions to the development of
medicine at Bologna, and a fellow student of Henri de Monteville.
In addition to his achievements as an anatomist, Mondino was highly
regarded as a diplomat. He was involved in city government and served
as an Ambassador of
Bologna to John, the son of King Robert of Naples.
Mondino died in
Bologna in 1326 and was buried in the parochial church
of San Vitale e Agricola along with his uncle Leuzzo, who was also a
lecturer in medicine. His granite tomb is adorned with a bas-relief,
sculpted by Boso of Parma, which depicts an instructor seated in a
large chair lecturing to students.
Mondino was the first to incorporate a systematic study of anatomy and
dissection into a medical curriculum. The dissection of human
cadavers was a hallmark of the Alexandrian school, but declined after
200 A.D. due to legal and religious proscriptions. These bans were
eventually lifted, allowing Mondino to perform his first public
Bologna in January 1315 in the presence of medical
students and other spectators. The proceedings were formally
sanctioned by the Vatican, and the subject was mostly likely a female
executed criminal. It was common practice for the professor of
anatomy to sit in a large, ornate chair elevated above the dissection
proceedings, reading from an anatomical text and providing commentary,
while a demonstrator, or surgeon, physically performed the dissection.
Additionally, an ostensor was present to point out the specific parts
of the body that were being examined. Mondino's teaching methods
were unique because he often performed dissections in person and
served the role of demonstrator himself, carefully studying the
cadaver and incorporating this personal experience into his text and
His dissection practices were guided by his adherence to a tripartite
division of the human body. He theorized that the body was composed of
three distinct containers: the skull, or superior ventricle, which
enclosed the “animal members”; the thorax, or middle ventricle,
which contained "spiritual members" such as the heart and lungs; and
finally the abdomen, or inferior ventricle, which housed "natural
members" including the liver and other visceral organs. Mondino
utilized the differences between animal, spiritual, and natural
members to classify distinct aspects of physiological activity. He
also asserted that certain parts of the body are innately superior to
others; according to that hierarchical arrangement, the abdomen should
be dissected first because its organs are "the most confused and least
noble", followed by the thorax, and finally the head, which contains
"higher and better organized" anatomical structures. Additionally,
Mondino argued that distinct dissection methods should be applied to
simple structures (such as bones, muscles, nerves, veins, and
arteries) as compared to more complex composite parts (for example,
the eye, ear, liver, and spleen. He also suggested that when to
study the muscles of the limbs, a sun-dried body be used as an
alternative to the more laborious practice of dissecting a
Contributions to anatomy
Mondino's major work, Anathomia corporis humani, written in 1316, is
considered the first example of a modern dissection manual and the
first true anatomical text. The earliest edition of the work was
Padua in 1478, and more than 40 editions exist in
total. By the 14th century, the practice of anatomy had come to
refer to the dissection of a cadaver according to prescribed rules;
Anathomia was intended as a handbook to guide this process.
Anathomia remained the most widely-used anatomical text for 250 years
(through the 16th century) because it clearly and concisely provided
the important technical indications involved in the dissection
process, including the steps involved and the reasoning behind the
organization of these procedures. Unlike his predecessors,
Mondino focuses specifically on anatomical descriptions rather than
engaging in a larger discourse on pathology and surgery in general.
Anathomia opens with the assertion that human beings are superior to
all other creatures because of their intellect, reasoning ability,
tool-making abilities, and upright stature; because he possesses these
noble qualities, man is worthy to be studied. Mondino goes on to
describe the organs in the order in which they present themselves
during the dissection process.
Dissection began with the opening
of the abdominal cavity via vertical incision running from the stomach
to the pectoral muscles and a horizontal cut above the navel. First,
the musculature of the intestinal tract is described in detail,
followed by an extensive discussion of the form, function, and
position of the stomach. According to the text, the stomach is
spherical; the stomach wall has an internal lining, which is "the seat
of sensation", and an external fleshy coat that is involved in
digestion. In order to access the spleen, which was thought to secrete
black bile into the stomach through imaginary canals, the dissector
was required to remove the "false ribs". The liver is said to
have five lobes, the gallbladder is described as the seat of yellow
bile, and the cecum is described with no mention of the vermiform
appendix. Though Anathomia only vaguely describes the pancreas,
the pancreatic duct is discussed in greater detail. He also makes new
observations regarding the anatomy of the bladder and the enlargement
of the uterus during both menstruation and pregnancy.
Dissection of Heart, from Mondino Dei Luzzi's Anatomia Mundini, Ad
Mondino's description of the human heart, though inaccurate, is fairly
detailed. He discusses three chambers: the right ventricle, the left
ventricle, and a middle ventricle within the septum. The right
ventricle is purported to contain a large opening, through which the
heart draws blood originating in the liver, as well as the opening of
the vena arterialis toward the lung. The left ventricle contains an
orifice with three valves and the bivalvular opening of the arteria
venalis, which allows the passage of a smoke-like vapor from the
lungs. Despite these anatomical shortcomings, the vena chili
(Mondino's name for the vena cava) is noteworthy in its accuracy. He
then moves on to the lungs, describing the course of the vena
arterialis (pulmonary artery) and the arteria venalis (pulmonary
vein). This section of Anathomia also describes the pleura and notes
the importance of distinguishing between pulmonary pathologies
including true pleurisy, false pleurisy, and pneumonia. His
descriptions of the larynx and epiglottis are very rudimentary.
Mondino describes the closure of an incised intestinal wound by having
large ants bite on its edges and then cutting off their heads, which
one scholar interprets as an anticipation of the use of staples in
surgery. Anathomia also includes a detailed passage on the
surgical treatment of a hernia, both with and without castration, as
well as a description of a type of cataract surgery.
Section of Brain in dissected Skull, from Mondino Dei Luzzi's Anatomia
Mundini, Ad Vetustis, 1541
Mondino's treatment of the skull provides only inexact directions for
its dissection, suggesting that the cranial cavity was opened
infrequently and with little technical skill. Nonetheless,
Anathomia contains a description of the cranial nerves derived from
Galen's Uses of the parts of the body of man. Furthermore, the brain
is divided into three vesicles, with the anterior vesicle serving as
the meeting place of the senses, the middle vesicle housing the
imagination, and the posterior vesicle containing the memory. Movement
of the choroid plexus is said to control mental processes by opening
and closing passages between the ventricles. Mondino follows
the Islamic commentators in placing the lens in the center of the
Much of the medical information included in Anathomia is derived from
commentaries on Hippocrates, Aristotle, and
Galen written by Islamic
scholars. Although Mondino makes frequent references to his
personal dissection experiences, he nonetheless repeats numerous
fallacies reported by these textual authorities. For example, he
propagates the incorrect Galenic notion that a rete mirabile
("miraculous network") of blood vessels exists at the base of the
human brain when it is in fact present only in ungulates. Other errors
contained in Anathomia are the result of an attempt to reconcile the
Galen and Aristotle. This is exemplified by Mondino's
description of the heart: he combines Aristotle's notion of a
triventricular heart with Galen's claim that a portion of the blood
can flow directly from one side of the heart to the other though a
permeable interventricular septum. He also propagates
information about the human reproductive system that is not
corroborated by anatomical evidence, including the existence of a
seven-celled uterus with hornlike appendages.
He made lasting, even if not entirely accurate, contributions to the
fields of anatomy and physiology. Anathomia quickly became a classic
text and, after his death, Mondino was regarded as a "divine master"
to such an extent that anything differing from the descriptions in his
book was regarded as anomalous or even monstrous. For three centuries,
the statutes of many medical schools required lecturers on anatomy to
use Anathomia as their textbook. Jacopo Berengario da Carpi, a
16th-century professor of anatomy at Bologna, wrote an extensive
commentary on Mondino's work, and the text of Anathomia was
incorporated into Ketham's 1493 text Fasciculus medicinae.
National Library of Medicine
National Library of Medicine 2006
^ a b c Olmi 2006, pp. 3–17.
^ The family name is spelled variously: Liucci, Lucci, Luzzi or Luzzo
(Latin: de Luciis, de Liuccis, de Leuciis); the dei may be contracted
to de' or de. See: Giorgi, P.P. (2004) "Mondino de' Liuzzi da Bologna
and the birth of modern anatomy" Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback
Machine. (in Italian).
^ a b c d e f Wilson 1987, p. 64.
^ Singer 1957, p. 74.
^ Siraisi 1990, p. 146.
^ a b c Castiglioni 1941, p. 341.
^ Singer 1957, p. 75.
^ Castiglioni 1941, p. 342.
^ a b Singer 1957, p. 76.
^ a b c Castiglioni 1941, p. 343.
^ Singer 1957, p. 78.
^ Siraisi 1990, p. 90.
^ Kornell 1989, p. 846.
^ a b Castiglioni 1941, p. 74.
^ Siraisi 1990, p. 86.
^ a b Beasley 1982, p. 971.
^ Siraisi 1990, p. 78.
^ a b Singer 1957, p. 81.
^ a b c Castiglioni 1941, p. 344.
^ Singer 1957, p. 83.
^ Beasley 1982, p. 971-972.
^ Singer 1957, p. 82,84.
^ Singer 1957, p. 84.
^ a b Siraisi 1990, p. 91.
^ a b Infusino 1995, p. 73.
^ Infusino 1995, p. 72.
Beasley, AW (1982). "Orthopaedic aspects of mediaeval medicine".
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 75 (12): 970–975.
PMC 1438502 . PMID 6757434.
Castiglioni, Arturo; Translated by E.B. Krumbhaar (1941). A History of
Medicine. New York: Knopf.
Infusino, Mark; Win, Dorothy; O'Neill, YV (1995). "Mondino's book and
the human body". Vesalius. 1 (2): 71–76. PMID 11618549.
Kornell, Monique (1989). "Fiorentino and the anatomical text". The
Burlington Magazine. 131 (1041): 842–847.
Olmi, Giuseppe (2006). Representing the body – Art and anatomy
from Leonardo to Enlightenment. Bologna: Bononia University
Singer, Charles (1957). A Short History of
Anatomy from the Greeks to
Harvey. New York: Dover.
Siraisi, Nancy (1990). Medieval & early Renaissance medicine: an
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Wilson, Luke (1987). "The performance of the body in the Renaissance
theater of anatomy". Representations (17): 62–95.
The International Centre for the History of Universities and Science
(CIS), University of Bologna
Online Galleries, History of Science Collections, University of
Oklahoma Libraries High resolution images of works by Mondino de Luzzi
in .jpg and .tiff format.
Francesco Moscheni & Giovanni Battista Negri D. (1550) " Matthaei
Curtii ... In Mundini Anatomen explicatio" by Mondino de Luzzi
ISNI: 0000 0000 7970 430X
BNF: cb13091574m (data)